I have seen many lawyers argue themselves OUT of a win by talking too much in court. The first rule of oral argument in court is that if you do not need to say anything because the judge is agreeing with you, then SHUT UP. You do yourself no service by re-hashing a point the court already accepts, and you run the risk of changing the court’s mind against you.
In those cases where the court is not going your way, then you do need to speak up. And here is the best advice I can give anyone speaking with a judge in court: listen to the judge and answer his or her question. Sounds simple enough, but again it is rarely practiced.
So often people come to court prepared to argue what they think the issue is, or what they fear the weak point is. But the court often sees the issue a little differently. You have to understand your legal arguments and be prepared to speak, but arguing a point the judge is not asking about is a waste of time and effort. More importantly, you can frustrate the judge and lose the argument altogether.
The best oral arguments I have had in court come from entering into a conversation with the court. The judge raises an issue or question, I listen to what he or she is asking about, and I formulate my response to address that concern. You must always remember that you are engaging in a conversation with the court. Coming into court with a pre-packaged argument and then not varying from your script is a sure recipe for disaster.
And when the court agrees with you and starts peppering the opposing party with questions, shut up. At times, your best argument can be silence.